Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thomas Hope Regency Designer

V & A museum, London UK

Thomas Hope can be seen as a designer, collector and innovator he played an important role in the early nineteenth century design. Hope's household furniture and decorative style was the designers bible of the time. He was a collector on a grand scale and also an innovative designer of great genius who helped define what we understand as the Regency style. The scope of Hope's influence is shown through sculpture, painting, furniture, interior design, costume, metalwork and silver.

Thomas Hope was a visionary born in Amsterdam in 1979, Hope inherited his family tradition of collecting and also a vast fortune from his families banking wealth. For ten years between 1787 and 1797, Thomas Hope travelled widely through Europe and the Near East. His travels enriched his passion for collecting and taught him how to improve modern design of the time. Hope made numerous drawings during these extensive travels which he later used as the muse for many pieces of furniture and interior design in his two houses.

Hope's houses - Duchess Street in london and the Deepdene in Surrey played a unique role in the history of collecting, interior design and display. Hope's juxtaposition of styles included Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Indian elements, as well as his own version of French Empire style. Classical sculpture and vases were displayed alongside modern paintings and sculpture. The Thomas Hope exhibition at the V & A recreates the atmosphere of three of the key interiors - the Aurora Room, Egyptian Room and Third Vase Room.

In 1807, the year after his marriage, Hope bought the Deepdene near Dorking Surrey. Just as he had challenged conventional urban taste with his novel interiors at Duchess Street, he now rethought what a modern country house should look like. The Deepdene was a red brick Georgian mansion which he redeveloped with a loggia-topped Italianate tower on which to pivot the whole composition and added a wing shooting out at an angle of 45 degrees. There is little record of the interiors of the Deepdene but the exhibition has a few enchanting watercolors of the interior and exterior of Deepdene.

Hope's influence continued long after his death with thanks to his, Household Furniture and Interior Decoration book. Sadly Duchess Street was demolished in 1851 but many of its images remained in trade journals and books on interior design. Its contents were taken to the Deepdene and later in 1917 his collection was dispersed in a great sale at the Deepdene. The interest in Hope's design led to many pieces being bought by collectors and museums in Europe and the USA and consequently Hope's design reached a wider public. Hope's style influenced the Regency Revival of the 1920's and 30's, and Art Deco Design.

1 comment:

  1. How would it be possible to find out if a piece I own is from the sale at the Deepdene, or a piece by Thomas Hope? I inherited a candlestick,that was made into a lamp,(but not altered in any way). It is in the same style as the candlesticks often pictured, made by Alexis Decraix, and also resembles other pieces of his work. There are numerous markings and numbers at the base, some scratched out. The family story is that it was fro the Malmaison, however after contacting the curator, he thought it was from another home, Bagatelle. I was unable to get anymore information. The sale at Deepdene makes sense to me, because of the dates. I know this was aquired by our family before 1920. I do have pictures I can provide. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank- you
    Myth Srsic


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